1998 – present (20 years)
m-flo is one of the biggest names in Japanese urban music, and became such by bringing together foreign influences and Japanese sensibilities. The group's nucleus of composer/trackmaker/producer ☆Taku Takahashi and rapper Verbal first became friends while the two were attending St. Mary's International School, a Tokyo based international high school. Later Taku moved to California, where he worked as a DJ and began composing. At this juncture the ethnically Korean Verbal went to school in Boston, where he also got deeper into rap music. Verbal also got into Christianity, so much that he majored in theology, but his friend Taku convinced him to return to Tokyo to pursue music.
In 1997 they hooked up again in Tokyo, and brought into their musical circle the Japanese-Colombian female singer Lisa, who attended Seisen International School, St. Mary's sister school. Lisa had already begun working in music, including serving as vocalist for the group Ram Jam World. The group released their first song Been So Long as a 12-inch single on an indie label, and were soon picked up by the Avex-affiliated Rhythm Zone label. From Avex they released a string of hit singles, and then their debut album Planet Shining, which went to #6 on the Oricon album chart. The group followed this success up with the re-mix album The Replacement Percussionists and a sold-out tour. The group also toured in Korea, where they were well received.
Their wide ranging popularity led to a number of side projects and collaborations, including Taku working on music by major stars like 宇多田ヒカル, Crystal Kay, 坂本龍一 and 松任谷由実, and Verbal working with the Korean superstar female idol group S.E.S. One S.E.S. member, Shoo, was actually born in Yokohama and speaks Japanese, which helped allow the group to attain some level of popularity in Japan in addition to their mega-success in Korea. Verbal has also worked with the pop duos Heartsdales and Halcali, and up and coming foreign idol Christina Milian. In 2001 the group released Expo Expo, and again released a remix album and toured.
In 2002 Lisa released the self-produced single Move On. The song it seems was an announcement of sorts, as soon after she announced that she was leaving m-flo to concentrate on a solo career, allegedly under acrimonious circumstances. After Lisa's departure m-flo have continued on as a duo, often recording with other artists. They developed a concept of sorts, the “m-flo loves **** ” series, with a guest artist’s name filling in the blank, such as “m-flo loves Akiko Wada”. In May 2004 they released the CD Astromantic and followed it with a related DVD. Astromantic was an album full of collaborations, including cuts with such major artists as BoA, 日之内エミ, Chemistry, Double, Kenji Furuya (of Dragon Ash), Ken Yokoyama (of Crazy Ken Band), and 野宮真貴 (of Pizzicato Five), and eventually released a remix album, Astromantic Charm School, where other composers and mixers would remix the songs from Astromantic. Two years later, m-flo released the album Beat Space Nine, which featured such artists as Yoshika, Emyli, Diggy Mo of SOUL'd OUT, Akiko Wada, and even a song with Lisa. A remix album, Dope Space nine was released much like Charm School.
Recently, an m-flo Inside WORKS BEST II has been released, bringing together some of their best tracks, and remixing them. As one can see, the group has done much, but will be going even further.
Since going solo Lisa has released Juicy Music in April 2003, Gratitude in June 2004, and an album of cover versions, mostly American 1980’s hits like Prince, Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, called Melody Circus in April 2005.
March 30th 2007, m-flo releases their new album Cosmicolor which all the songs are collaborations(except the interludes), this time with artist such as melody., 安室奈美恵, DOPING PANDA, Bonnie Pink, Chara, or MINMI. A remix album featuring the songs from Cosmicolor was released(as expected) on September 26, 2007. With the end of the "loves" series m-flo's fans eagerly await their next move.
Verbal from m-flo has his own blog here: http://ameblo.jp/m-flo-verbal/page-1.html He usually writes almost every day.
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